Monday, September 8, 2014

IPOB Attacks!

When a hooded member of IPOB trepanned James Laube with a Coravin, and the rebel group posted the video on YouTube, the wine community responded with outrage. It’s a graphic and horrifying video, the gaunt Laube appearing stoic as the Coravin’s needle penetrates his skull, the instrument of torture replacing the fetid air inside Laube’s head with a neutral Argon gas. “No one will be able to tell the difference in Laube’s reviews,” IPOB said in a written statement, “we just wanted everyone to get a little taste of what’s in there. Oddly, we noticed the escaping gas smelled distinctly of skunk.” The statement was entitled, “O Mercaptan! My Mercaptan!”

The trepanation of Laube, explained by the hooded IPOB thug in the video as “putting a C-hole in the A-hole,” was just the most recent offense carried out by the mysterious group of winemakers known as IPOB. To the media, “IPOB” is always said to stand for “In Pursuit of Balance.” But, according to anonymous insiders, the group’s acronym actually stands for “Incredibly Pretentious Organized Blowhards.” In the past couple of years, IPOB has managed to terrorize the wine establishment with its blend of propaganda, fear-mongering and dreadfully dull seminars, all aimed at achieving their ultimate goal—total wine domination.

After Laube’s public trepanation, his employer, Wine Spectator, released this statement: 

“The Coravin-ing of James Laube will not, in any way, deter us from our mission of reducing every wine to a single number up to 100. Winemakers around the world work tirelessly each vintage to produce their wines, risking everything they own, laboring long hours every day, simply for the opportunity to have their efforts summed up by Wine Spectator in a number. We will not disappoint the vintners of the world by succumbing to one terrorist group’s insane call for ‘balance.’ Wine is, and always has been, about alcohol. The call for balance is a thinly disguised neo-Prohibitionist movement, and our colleague Laube’s glorified noogie only demonstrates how un-balanced members of IPOB are.”

Only weeks before, IPOB had claimed credit for the Napa earthquake. “Until owners and winemakers in Napa Valley back off on their obscene ripeness levels and begin to make wines the way God intended—under 13% alcohol—we will continue to use our massive accumulative brain power to destroy the very ground under them.” Seismologists at Cal Tech deny the possibility that IPOB could have triggered a massive quake with their minds noting, “Randall Grahm isn’t even a member.”

Wine terrorist experts are fearful that IPOB has become more and more desperate, and may resort to even more dangerous techniques to try and enforce their beliefs. According to records recently released under the Freedom of Information act, the group had plans to kidnap Robert Parker, Jr and force him to give high scores to the wines made by members of IPOB by waterboarding him with Ribolla Gialla. The plan nearly worked, and certainly would have worked if they’d made the Ribolla into wine first. “Hard to shove those grapes down his nostrils,” one member wryly remarked.

IPOB, according to yet another report, had plans to disrupt the annual Zinfandel tasting organized by its archrival ZAP. A few members of IPOB were planning to form a human barrier to the event by handcuffing themselves together linked to a powerful explosive device and blocking the entrance, but their plans were foiled when hackers for ZAP quickly discovered a way around the Peay wall.

Little is known about how winemakers are recruited for IPOB. Membership information is closely guarded, and the organization is tight-lipped about the actual process. Many who have attempted to join IPOB have been scorned, usually because their wines are said to lack “balance.” Yet a cursory glimpse of IPOB’s roster seems to indicate absolute randomness in who is accepted into its ranks, and who is not. There seems to be something more than “balance” in play, something else that decides what wines are up to Parr. There have been accusations that IPOB uses “balance” as a determining factor for wine the same way Republicans use “valid ID” when it comes to voting—as a red herring. And everyone knows a red doesn’t go with herring.

The brutal and escalating fight over “balance” didn’t begin with IPOB, however. Other businesses have claimed exclusive ownership of the word. FOX News laid claim to being “Fair and Balanced” with equal authority. Creating “balanced” budgets allows our legislative branches a way to legitimize income inequality. Cereal companies sell junk food to kids as “balanced” breakfasts.  Humans love the idea of balance. Most think they know it when they have it, know it when they taste it, know it better than anyone else. They crave it, they admire it, and they fall for it every time. What sort of balance is that?

James Laube was released unharmed, claiming the trepanning didn’t even hurt. “Hell,” Laube said, “I’m a numbskull.”


Charlie Olken said...

In reality, the "balance" that these folks are pursuing is in their bank accounts. IPOB is a marketing campaign built around the notion that only its members know how to make wine.

And they don't know the first thing about herring. I do. I recognize a good piece of herring when I taste it, and this is not good herring. Although it smells more than a little fishy.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

I find the entire thing amusing. I guess we need trivial stuff in the wine business to quibble over, whether it's balance or natural or 100 point scales. I don't think that many people actually fall for that kind of marketing hooey. Bloggers love the romance of marketing, too, of "storytelling," of feeling some kind of clout by using words, usually poorly, and then casting them out into the infinite ocean of the Intergnats, convinced their words will somehow float to the top. Like turds. Maybe what the democracy of wine blogs has done, really, is to give more power to useless ideas about wine. The ideas are still useless, but they have more staying power because they are endlessly repeated by those who have no original ideas of their own.

But I digress.

Ever since STEVE! carelessly compared ISIS to IPOB, I had this image of James Laube being held hostage. Originally, I had them beheading him, but that's too gruesome, and not especially funny. After that first paragraph about trepanation, I just went wherever my fevered brain wanted to take me. It's a stupid piece, but something of a fun exercise to write.

Unknown said...

I'm starting a new organization called IPOA. In Pursuit of Acrimony

Thomas said...

LBA took the IRT down to fourth street usa; when he got there what did he see? the youth of amerika on LSD.

LBJ, LSD, CIA, FBI, IPOB--nah, it doesn't fit.

Thomas said...

That first one should be LBJ not LBA, what does it matter???

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Sign me up for IPOA! Oh, wait, I thought you said IPA. Those are tasty.

Though I'd think that you'd be better off starting IPOP. In Pursuit of Points. Get a much bigger membership.

I love how you read your comments for typos AFTER you hit publish. Sort of like noticing the Brett
AFTER you bottle.

LBA was a great president. Or was that a basketball league? I'm confused.

Bob Henry said...

". . . their plans were foiled when hackers for ZAP quickly discovered a way around the PEAY wall."

Talk about an "inside baseball" phrase.

Bob Henry said...


Your not alone. I do it all the time.

~~ Bob

Bob Henry said...



You're not alone. I do it all the time.

~~ Bob

Francly Speaking said...

I always thought it was IPOBS - I always try to run their releases through my BS meter... before pulling any corks...

Charlie Olken said...


Hairy comment--or given the age of the reference, maybe hoary.

Bob Henry said...

Wow -- talk about a real "inside baseball" pun!

IPOB terroirists tried waterboarding using Ribolla Gialla, but the grapes were too large for the victim's nostrils.

So instead they resorted to trepanning.

Using this "implement of torture"?:

Trepan (grape), another name for the Spanish wine grape Trepat

Nice !

Bill Ward said...

You just about got a spit take here with "Peay wall." Guessing the folks back where I grew up in Nashville wouldn't get it because the nearby college Austin Peay pronounces it like urine.That did enable them to have one of the all-time sports chants in the early '70s when James "Fly" Williams was the the nation's leading scorer:
"The Fly is open, so let's go Peay!"

Unknown said...

I would be careful of mocking Peay, as Vanessa Wong is pretty funny herself. She's my PeayPal so watch out for her PeayBack.

This is one of your funniest for a longtime, Ron.

I agree with your semi-veiled criticisms of IPOB. At the same time I was starting to get tired of 17% Pinot Noir.

I also think that to sell your wine you have to create a narrative sometimes. When your wine is 14% alc and has 3 grams of rs, maybe not. But if you are making 12% alc wine with no rs, most folks are going to make that 'bitter beer' face when they drink it.

kcp said...

(Wine consumer only) I laughed all the way through the article. Everyone on this rather inflated faux controversy needs to give their self-interest a break. Why can't IPOB promote their own take on wines any more or less than critics such as Parker, Laube, Heimoff, Olken, etc?

kcp said...

(Wine Consumer) I should have noted on my earlier comment that I do not subscribe to any low alcohol means balanced wine mantra. That line seems to be another one of those red herring issues.

Christopher O'Gorman said...

So funny. Thanks for the laughs Hoseman!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Common Taters,
I always find it interesting which pieces I write generate traffic, make people laugh, or don't. When I write them, I don't give any of that a second thought. I have said this endlessly, but I write for my own amusement and satisfaction. Inside jokes are written for my own pleasure. But I learned early in my comic career never to write down to my audience--a lot of bloggers still need to learn that lesson.

I never really have an agenda, except for satire. I couldn't shake the image of some odd wine terrorist group beheading a kidnapped Laube on YouTube. I wrote the piece to exorcise that image. I confess the image is sick, but satire often comes from darkness.

Thanks for all the kind words. And thanks for coming here to read my crapola. I've been getting a lot of hits from eBob, but I don't subscribe so I have no idea what everyone is saying about me. Perhaps that's best.

Brian Loring - Loring Wine Company said...


Bob Henry said...

As I opined on Steve Heimoff's blog, do these IPOB-ers (rhymes with SOB-ers) drink high alcohol . . .

• Port
• Brandy
• Cognac
• Tequila
• Rum
• Whiskey
• Bourbon
• single malt Scotch

If they are sommeliers, then serving those beverages is their job.

And no restaurant can forgo a healthy bar income.

Bob Henry said...


Should I start "signing" my comments iBob ("i" for link) to distinguish myself from eBob?

-- the "other" Bob

kcp said...

(Wine Consumer only) I keep wondering who these low alcohol IPOBers demons are. I buy from a number of these wineries (at least 8 at my last count), and they (mostly) don't seem to stint on alcohol levels.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Everything about IPOB has the ring of "tired old arguments" about it. Your question is a good one. I think I like the wines of almost every single member of IPOB, in general, anyway. But I don't need to be told that any quality wine producer is In Pursuit of Balance. The entire concept of the group is insulting, and, frankly, most of them should know better. But, like all great advertising and marketing, it only has to make people talk about the product, positively or negatively, it doesn't have to have integrity.

I didn't write this piece to attack IPOB. But the divisiveness and rhetoric that IPOB generates triggered the thought that, ultimately, someone could get carried away. When I read the anger aimed at Parker or Laube for their reviews, when one hears of death threats aimed at wine critics (it's only wine), one wonders how long it will be before someone does something incredibly stupid, like a kidnapping and trepanation. Exaggeration is the territory of satire, so I used IPOB as the evil wine terrorists instead of making up a group. I found the idea rather interesting the more I explored it. But, aside from their insulting tone and disingenuousness, I don't have anything against IPOB. They're entitled to sell wine based on a silly and derogatory premise if they want to. It's wonderful grist for the comedy mill, which is all I pretty much care about.

By the way, whoever you are (Wine Consumer), thanks for being a welcome new common tater.

Thomas said...

There's a new organization--just formed today: I.P.O.B.

Nor kindding (or, to get the typos before I leave) no kidding.

I.P.O.B...In Place Of Balance.

In place of balance, the group supports wine that cannot stand straight--get it?

If you pour unbalanced wine into a glass, it leans to one side or the other. There's a left-leaning wine called M.A.R.X. and a right-leaning wine that's actually beer; it's called B.I.R.C.H.

Let me see--any typoz? Nope, not won.

Charlie Olken said...

Dear Wine Consumer--
Welcome to the club. Deep down, we are all wine consumers here. We just like ours with a laugh line now and then.

As for the difference between critics and IPOB, the critics do not have anything to sell except and thus do not have "takes" that are self-promoting. You can agree or diasgree with a given review or reviewer because they are opinions based on taste. IPOB is selling argument based on products they produce. That is why they get some people's knickers in a twist.

By the way, most critics like many of the wines from the IPOB crowd--just not their attitudes towards the palates or wines of others.

kcp said...


The last sentence of your reply helps me the most since I don't see the IPOBers in action with those in the industry. But I think that critics often have something to sell--even if it's simply a point of view, and those views are not always innocent as we can see by the many comments, from various folk in the industry, on this topic starting with Steve Heimoff's recent blog.

kcp said...

Thanks, Ron. Your points are well taken by someone (me)sitting outside the fray, outside the industry, and I think Charlie's comments to me speak to your comments as well. Clearly, clearly, IPOB folk have created a lot of animosity.

Your satire, by the way,I loved from the get-go and in no way took it as a specific attack on IPOB--everyone was pretty well skewered.

Bob Henry said...


I see the right-leaning winemakers also make this:

There is beverage hegemony going on right under our very noses.

~~ iBob

Bob Henry said...

Zut alors!

Are they trying to steal to co-op the M.A.R.X.-ists?

Bob Henry said...

Damn, I stepped on my joke (and added a typo to boot):

"Are they trying to co-opt the M.A.R.X.-ists?"

Dorothy said...

Super blog and awesome information about the Coravin wine product really very enjoy it.